It’s hard to say how many lives Tom Breno may have saved in the past 14 years. He’s not a doctor or a paramedic. Nor is he a medical researcher or a scientist.
But he is a dedicated platelet donor who spends every other Saturday morning at LifeShare Community Blood Services in Elyria, knowing that his tiny contributions will make a big difference to cancer and leukemia patients.
Breno, 56, of Strongsville, recently celebrated his 300th platelet donation with a party at LifeShare with friends and family, cake and ice cream and a commemorative clock. Only 39 donors have reached this milestone in LifeShare’s 62-year history. The current record is 758 platelet donations.
Platelets are a blood component that helps control bleeding.
Typically, donated platelets are transfused into a child or adult who is battling cancer.
During harsh but necessary radiation and chemotherapy treatments, many patients’ platelets are destroyed, placing them at risk of fatal hemorrhaging, said Lisa Mayles, director of public relations and marketing at LifeShare Community Blood Services.
This struck a chord with Breno, who lost his first wife to breast cancer when she was 41, and their daughter was 12.
“When something like that strikes you, you feel real helpless. You start questioning everything and the reasons behind it. It made me think that I’d like to do something to help other people in a similar situation,” said Breno, a former Elyria resident.
A platelet pheresis donation differs from a whole blood donation in that a machine separates the three components of blood (red cells, platelets and plasma) while you donate.
The machine isolates the platelets and returns the red cells and plasma back to the donor. Mayles said this process takes 60 to 90 minutes. To draw the blood, a needle is inserted at the inner elbow of both arms.
The process is painless, but it requires donors to remain still on the donor bed for the duration.
Healthy people have an ample supply of platelets and will replenish the donated platelets within 72 hours.
“I’d like to think if more people knew about it, they would do it because it’s not that difficult,” Breno said. “Once you get in the habit of going, it becomes a part of your life. You meet the same donors who are there every other week, they become friends. The nurses become friends, they are like family almost — you know them by first name, you see them grow up and you see them have children.”
How to donate
Donors can give blood once every 56 days and platelets as many as 24 times a year. Donors must be at least 17 years of age, weigh at least 110 pounds and be of good health. Platelet donors also must have donated whole blood at least once, and must refrain from aspirin for 48 hours prior to donating.
American Red Cross of Lorain County
The following is a partial list of upcoming blood drives hosted by the American Red Cross of Lorain County:
- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today: Oberlin Recreation Center, 200 Woodland St., Oberlin. Call Betsy Bruce
at (440) 775-8504 for an appointment.
- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday: Christian Unity Church, 36353 Capel Road, Grafton. Also at Midway Mall, Elyria.
- 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday: Oberlin Police Department, 85 S. Main St., Oberlin.
- 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday: Lorain County Chapter of the American Red Cross, 2929 W. River Road N., Elyria. Make an appointment at (440) 324-2929.
Avon Donor Center
Blood donors can also visit the Avon Donor Center at 2100 Center Road. Hours vary. For more information, visit loraincounty.redcross.org.
To make an appointment to donate blood through LifeShare in Lorain County, call (440) 322-7150.
- 333 E. Bridge St., Elyria: Hours: 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.
- 4274 Oberlin Ave., Lorain: Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
- Olde Firehouse, state Route 83 and Lake Road, Avon Lake: Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday
- Allen Medical Center, 508 Dickson St., Wellington: Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. second and fourth Thursdays of the month.
Contact Chrissy Kadleck at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.